Washington, San Diego and the Twin Cities among America’s healthiest cities

Think your city is in good shape? Every year, the American College of Sports Medicine releases a list of the fittest cities in the nation. They look at factors that range from rates of angina to number of dog parks to gauge how active and healthy a metro area is. This year, "To provide the most up-to-date measures of community health and fitness, access to city parks has been added as a new indicator in 2015," they say.

Who came out on top? The nation's capital, which has a good Walkscore, low rates of diabetes-related deaths and a lot of tennis courts. Indianapolis, where people apparently aren't into vegetables, was at the bottom of the heap. Here are the top three healthiest cities — and the most fun ways to stay active in each.

Washington, D.C.

Running past the Capitol. Photo: Elvert Barnes
Running past the Capitol. Photo: Elvert Barnes

D.C. has tons of public parkland (95 percent of residents live within 10 minutes of a park), which makes it prime for running and good for biking around town, but to fully take advantage of the D.C. area, you should branch out a little.

For a trail run within the city limits, hit Rock Creek Park, which you can link up with Dumbarton Oaks Park and Glover-Archibald Park, among others. Or get on your road bike and head toward Mount Vernon, George Washington's home. You also could kayak or SUP the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. Or you could do what all the yuppies on The Hill do: Join a kickball league.

Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota

Lake Nokomis. One of Many. Photo Nick Ortloff
Lake Nokomis, one of many. Photo: Nick Ortloff

The Twin Cities are full of lakes, parks, green spaces and bike trails. To see as much of them as possible, bike Minneapolis's Grand Rounds. The 55-mile, seven-segment loop circles some of the area's most scenic lakes and rolls along the Mississippi River and by Minnehaha Falls, where you can also go to one of the best restaurants in the area: Sea Salt Eatery. The cities are also prime for sailing (see: Land of 100,000 Lakes).

San Diego, California

Not just beach cruising, but that is an option. Photo: Stephen Hennesy
Not just beach cruising, but that is an option. Photo: Stephen Hennesy

Yes, you should 100 percent go surfing in San Diego — we're partial to the stuff on the north end of San Diego County — but don't limit yourself to the beach. Just inland, the hills get steep and there's shockingly good mountain biking, and because of the climate, you can ride all winter long.

Follow the training routes a lot of pro riders take and head to Noble Canyon or Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. If you want to get a high-speed road ride in, tag along on the Swami's Club Saturday ride. Then get yourself a pizza (and truffle popcorn) at Blue Ribbon in Encinitas.

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